The Haves and Have-Nots of Cancer Care

When I decided to undergo a lumpectomy earlier this month after a diagnosis of D.C.I.S., I learned a new word that makes me grateful for my privileges but also worried about the privations of others. The word is lagniappe, a bonus, like the 13th doughnut in the purchased dozen. As I went through yet another operation, my way was eased by the kindness of friends and relatives.

The greatest extravagance came from my daughters who gave me their precious time. The younger flew in from New York City, the older from Boston. They were my lagniappes, in a sense: a bonus beyond the gift of having a potential health crisis averted. At my age, 72, and with my history, eight years of ongoing treatment for advanced ovarian cancer, I knew that their presence would bolster me.

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